“Cover bands don’t change the world.” That is a call to action from Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative and PODcast by the same name. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and subscribe to both his blog and PODcast. In fact, my favorite workouts are the ones I spend with Todd in my ears. His tag line is one in which I hadn’t given much thought, but one that has inspired me since reading his book two years ago. I share his advocacy for us to find our own voice, to write our own script as we enjoy our personal adventure, and to learn as much as we can from our mentors in an effort to outgrow them. In some aspects of life, I have found my own voice and in some instances I have inspired others to cover some of my work. In other areas, I remain a hack, a copycat, or a cover band and I am OK with that. Earlier this month, I was inspired by my son to purchase a guitar and take some lessons. He plays the keyboard in a band and just recently started playing the bass. My parents were kind enough to buy me a guitar when I was a kid, but I never really played it. I took one lesson, saw that I wasn’t a natural, and kept it under my bed for the rest of my adolescence. I clearly wasn’t ready to learn and therefore never gave myself a real chance. Now, I am ready to start the journey toward becoming a proficient guitarist. A journey that may be longer for me than most, but a journey that excites me.
I have always appreciated music, but never thought that I had the ability to produce any myself. Hearing music come out of my son’s fingertips, and now through a flick of his wrist, gives me great joy and I can tell that it makes him extremely proud. As he plays, he will periodically stop to ask me and my wife if we are proud of him. He knows that we are and he loves to hear it. When I came home with my new guitar, he told me how proud he was of me. When I struggle through a song that he can recognize (provided I tell him what it is supposed to be before I start), he is quick to tell me how proud he is of me. And I am not ashamed to say I love hearing that from him. I have no aspirations of making my own music, but I try like heck to cover the music that others have created. I won’t change the world through music and that is not my lot in life, but sometimes it’s enough to be a cover band. We may not change the world and we may not inspire others, but the cover band that is my son continues to change my world. I do hope that he aspires to being more than a cover band in at least one aspect of his life, but until then, I am more than content doing my best to support him in his endeavors while he helps me to grow into a cover band of my own.
In my professional life, I will agree with Todd, we ought to aspire to being much more than we are, we ought to have our own voice, we ought to evolve into an original band worthy of being covered by others. Until then, we ought to remain committed to keep making music, keep covering the best practices we personally witness, and keep striving to be the best artist we are capable of being, as that is the only measure of success that matters…reaching our full potential (and helping others to do the same).